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Still a Family: A Story about Homelessness Hardcover – January 31, 2017
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This book offers a gentle way to explain homelessness to children. It shows what life is like living in the shelter, how family members are separated from one another, and how difficult it is to live in this way. This is one of those important books that serves as a window for some children but also as a mirror for those living with homelessness. Throughout the young narrator shares her positive outlook despite the challenges.
The illustrations by Lee are childlike and explore seeing the subject from the point of view of the little girl. They have a rough quality to them and have the feel of being drawn by colored pencils and crayons.
An important book for urban libraries, this picture book fills a need in many of our communities. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Author Sturgis picks just the right details and tone to share in this young girl's story. She makes friends, has a doll named Molly who is always in tow, and meets her father in the park for family fun, just like most families do, homeless or not. But, reality is portrayed realistically. Our main character misses her own bed and the quiet of her home; she stands in soup kitchen lines, and she wishes her shoes weren't so tight. Her parents look for work daily, and sometimes when it rains, they must create a lean-to. The young girl's refrain, "We're still a family" will reassure young readers that love prevails even in hard times. Jo-Shin Lee's compelling, child-like illustrations will also make young readers feel a part of the narrative.
The Author's Note and Resources section in the back matter further illuminate the problem of homelessness and what we all can do to help. Finally, even though Amazon indicates age ranges as K-3 grade, I feel that students grades 4-8 could also appreciate this picture book. Innovative teachers will find a way to incorporate social studies and service learning/community projects into a unit with this book.